Captain Omen and I love to read aloud. We used to read aloud the summer we got married. We read in our yard, or at a table in an urban park. And then life got busier, or we forgot the pleasure of reading to each other.
This year we have resumed this charming habit. In September and October we read Alice Thomas Ellis’s Pillars of Gold, written mostly in dialogue, so it is perfect for reading aloud. (Here is my review.) And last week we began Joseph Conrad’s Victory, a tense novel set in the tropics. The hero, Heyst, a charming, courteous Swede, establishes and manages a coal company that goes broke. No one understands why Heyst stays behind. And Schomberg, a gossipy, vicious German hotel owner, is intent on ruining Heyst’s reputation. Later, they struggle over a girl, Lena.
Conrad is a thrilling storyteller and a pitch-perfect stylist.
I asked Captain Omen why he likes reading aloud. “I enjoy hearing the words spoken. It somehow makes the descriptions more vivid. I like sitting outside while we read. I like being with my wife.”
Reading aloud is an intimate act. It is a change from the world of electronics and audiobooks, which are entertaining, but not entirely necessary. And to echo Captain Omen, “I like sitting outside. I like being with my husband.”